Little League baseball has been around since 1939. Since that time, it's evolved into the main outlet for young boys and girls to play organized baseball with other members of the community.
Today, Little League is the largest organized youth sports program on the planet. In 2017, nearly 2.5 million children in more than eighty countries played in the divisions of Little League sports.
The children who participate in Little League don't just learn how to hit a ball or steal a base. They learn valuable lessons about teamwork, sportsmanship, and leadership.
Did you grow up playing Little League sports? Or are you playing them now? Either way, keep on reading and you'll learn the fascinating history behind Little League Baseball.
Baseball is a sport that's intertwined with the history and culture of America. There are even records of soldiers of the Continental Army playing ball games at Valley Forge during the American Revolution.
Through the early part of the 1800s, American citizens played more modern versions of the British games of rounders and cricket. They usually referred to these games as "town ball."
In the 1840s, Alexander Joy Cartwright of New York played a game called "base ball" with his friends. It was very similar to the game that we all know and love today. While some people claim that Abner Doubleday invented the sport, historians generally regard that assertion as a myth.
On June 19, 1846, the very first scheduled baseball game took place.
A few years later, during the American Civil War, soldiers on both sides of the war would play baseball to pass the time.
By the end of the 1800s, baseball was so popular that it was already considered "America’s Pastime.”
Starting in the 1880s, leagues were created for pre-teen children in New York. However, most kids played "pickup" baseball games on their own in the streets. Children-sized equipment was hard to come by during this time.
In the 1920s, a baseball program for teen boys was formed by the American Legion. Schools in America also started their own baseball programs. Many pre-teen children were still left out of organized baseball, however.
A man by the name of Carl Stotz came up with the idea of an organized baseball league for boys in 1938. He didn't have any sons of his own but he had some nephews that he would often play baseball with. He wanted to give them a way to play organized baseball of their own.
Carl gathered several of the kids in his hometown of Williamsport, Pennsylvania and experimented with different kinds of equipment. During that summer, he also messed around with different field dimensions.
That first year, no games were played and the program still didn't have a name.
In 1939, Carl and his wife enlisted the help of some of their friends. Carl and his two friends, brothers Bert and George Bebble, became the managers of the first three teams. These teams were called Jumbo Pretzel, Lundy Lumber, and Lycoming Dairy.
After some more people joined the program, the league had its first board of directors.
After talking it over with some people in the community, Carl finally settled on the name "Little League." His goal was to have a wholesome baseball program for the children of Williamsport as a way to teach them about the values of teamwork and fair play.
Sponsorships for the league cost $30 at the time and the money was used to pay for the uniforms and equipment for the league's thirty players. Since that time, sponsorships of Little League, both at the Headquarters level and the local league level, have helped to keep costs to parents at a minimum.
There are also plenty of fun fundraising ideas that parents can utilize in order to support their local teams.
In 1939, on June 6, the very first Little League game ever was played. At the end of the game, Lundy Lumber beat Lycoming Dairy, 23-8. Lycoming Dairy managed to come back later, however, and won the first-half title of the season.
Lycoming then faced off against second-half champ Lundy Lumber in a best-of-three series. In the final game of the series, Lycoming Dairy beat Lundy Lumber 3-2.
In the years following that first season, other programs emulating the first Little League started to spring up. Boundaries for each Little League program were created in order to make sure that each league could flourish without worrying that neighboring programs would steal their players.
From its humble beginnings, Little League Baseball is now the largest organized youth sports program on the planet. Starting with just three teams, the league now has more than 200,000 teams and millions of alumni.
Hopefully, after reading the above article, you should now have a much better understanding of the history of Little League. As you can probably see, what started as a smalltown youth sports program has grown into an international phenomenon that children are enjoying nearly a century later.
Little League has thrived for all these years partly thanks to the fact that it manages to bring people together and teach children the value of teamwork and sportsmanship.
One way to establish a sense of community and camaraderie among your players is with baseball trading pins. These are intricately designed and expertly produced enamel pins that are unique to your child's team. They make for great collectibles and end-of-season gifts.
If you'd like to learn more, then contact us today and see what we can do for you!